Covelo

Organic Money


From GENE LOGSDON
Upper Sandusky, Ohio

Recently I was invited to a most unusual gathering. The event was not officially called a “Conference On Advanced Economic Trends” but if it had been held at a university, it would surely have been given a high-sounding name like that. Instead it was held on a working farm and was called “Our Garlic Festival.”

The farm is Jandy’s, after its owners, Andy Reinhart and Jan Dawson. They make their living growing and selling vegetables from less than two acres of their little farm, mostly at the farmer’s market in nearby Bellefountaine, Ohio. Locally Jan and Andy are revered organic garden farmers. One look at their crops will tell anyone who knows anything about organic gardening just how remarkably skilled they are at their craft. Sometimes a head of their bibb lettuce barely fits into a bushel basket. They don’t need to have organic certification. Their customers know that if Jan and Andy say its organic, rest assured that it is organic. They don’t sell commodities; they sell the fruit of their dedicated way of life, drops of their sweat and blood.

Keep reading at OrganicToBe
~~

Journalism Is Killing America


From emptywheel

Five years ago, the traditional media helped Bush pitch a war that got 4,337 service men and women killed in Iraq (to say nothing of the thousands and thousands of Iraqis killed).

Now, traditional media journalism is back to killing Americans, in this case by deliberately misrepresenting public views on health care reform. EJ Dionne describes how at least one network refused to cover civil, informative town halls.

But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?

There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television’s point of view “boring”) encounters between elected representatives and their constituents.

Over the past week, I’ve spoken with Democratic House members, most from highly contested districts, about what happened in their town halls. None would deny polls showing that the health-reform cause lost ground last month, but little of the probing civility that characterized so many of their forums was ever seen on television.

Ukiah Mendocino: Who’s Polluting Our Local Water?


From RON EPSTEIN
Ukiah

Across the nation, the system that Congress created to protect the nation’s waters under the Clean Water Act of 1972 today often fails to prevent pollution. The New York Times has compiled data on more than 200,000 facilities that have permits to discharge pollutants and collected responses from states regarding compliance. Information about facilities contained in this database comes from two sources: the Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board. The database does not contain information submitted by the states.

Go to 95482 map and list here

Go to story Toxic Waters at NYT here
~~

Ukiah Mendocino: Slave Wage Mall Jobs Get DDR CEO His Castle


From Cleveland Magazine (August 2008)
A Tour of DDR CEO Scott Wolstein’s Castle RAVENCREST

[There's an old Ry Cooder song "The Very Thing That Makes You Rich Makes Me Poor." As Chinese slave-wage  sweatshop labor turns out more cheap crap for our storage lockers and landfill, Mendocino County is being offered 700 slave-wage, soul-killing dumb jobs here at home to dispose of it all from our very own Monster Mall, while they keep the high-paying smart jobs in Ohio. Meanwhile, the recently-resigned Monster Mall CEO enjoys this 36,000-square-feet castle. Before the hoardes of Ohio homeless and unemployed start coming over the hill for food and shelter, he best get the servants out digging the moat. Let's take a tour, shall we? -DS]

When it’s time to get cleaned up, he hops in an 11-foot-long, custom-tiled porcelain shower. Afterward, he’ll relax and catch a show or two on the plasma TV that hangs just in front of the plush cushions he rests on.

Only we’re not referring to the man of the house. We’re talking about his dog.

What makes Wolstein’s house so special isn’t any one thing. It’s that it has everything: an infinity pool, indoor basketball court, indoor climbing wall, indoor pool with grotto-style hot tub, steam room, sauna and massage room.

Big Food vs. Big Insurance



From MICHAEL POLLAN
New York Times

TO listen to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night, or to just about anyone else in the health care debate, you would think that the biggest problem with health care in America is the system itself — perverse incentives, inefficiencies, unnecessary tests and procedures, lack of competition, and greed.

No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.

That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are.

We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.
Go to article at NYT
Thanks to Janie Sheppard and Evan Johnson
~~

Biological Agriculture’s First Rule



From ELIOT COLEMAN
Harborside, Maine
Excerpted from The Winter Harvest Handbook (2009)

Once you become determined to eliminate the cause of insects and disease rather than just mask the symptoms, a whole new world opens up. A plant bothered by pest or disease need no longer be seen in the negative. The plant can now be looked upon as your coworker. It is communicating with you. It is saying that conditions are not conducive to its optimum growth and that if the plants are to be healthier next year, the soil must be improved.

But to succeed at that you have to accept what I call the first rule of biological agriculture–“Nature makes sense.” If something is not working, it is the farmer’s, not Nature’s, fault. The farmer has made the mistake. You have to have faith in the rational design of the natural world, and thus have an expectation of success, if you hope to understand the potential for succeeding. To do so, it helps to restate Darwin more correctly as “the un-survival of the unfit.”
~

Learn by Observing

Take your lawn as an example. Say you have a lawn that is growing mostly crab grass, sorrel, dandelions, and other weeds but none of the finer grasses that you would prefer. There are two courses of action. For one you could purchase all the heavily advertised nostrums, herbicides, fertilizers, and stimulants to suppress the weed competition so the finer grasses would be able to struggle ahead. Conversely, you could study the optimum growing conditions for the grasses you want and then by adding compost, rock powders, peat moss, manure, aerating, draining, or whatever seemed indicated, you could try to create the soil conditions under which the finer grasses thrive. If you doubt this approach, look closely at wild vegetation on undisturbed land.

People Are Finally Talking About Food, and You Can Thank Wendell Berry for That


From MICHAEL POLLAN
The Nation and Alternet

This article is adapted from Michael Pollan’s introduction to Bringing It to the Table, a collection of Wendell Berry’s writings out this fall from Counterpoint.

Wendell Berry’s now-famous formulation, “eating is an agricultural act” — is perhaps his signal contribution to the rethinking of food and farming under way today.

A few days after Michelle Obama broke ground on an organic vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House in March, the business section of the Sunday New York Times published a cover story bearing the headline Is a Food Revolution Now in Season? The article, written by the paper’s agriculture reporter, said that “after being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House.”

Certainly these are heady days for people who have been working to reform the way Americans grow food and feed themselves — the “food movement,” as it is now often called. Markets for alternative kinds of food — local and organic and pastured — are thriving, farmers’ markets are popping up like mushrooms and for the first time in many years the number of farms tallied in the Department of Agriculture’s census has gone up rather than down. The new secretary of agriculture has dedicated his department to “sustainability” and holds meetings with the sorts of farmers and activists who not many years ago stood outside the limestone walls of the USDA holding signs of protest and snarling traffic with their tractors.

Cheap words, you might say; and it is true that, so far at least, there have been more words than deeds — but some of those words are astonishing. Like these: shortly before his election, Barack Obama told a reporter for Time that “our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil”… Complete article at AlterNet
~~

Community Building in a World of Shrinking Energy Resources


From DON SANDERSON
Mendocino County

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better … and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed – the ecological, social, demographic, or general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable.
–Václav Havel, then president of Czechoslovakia, in a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, February, 1990

The American political establishment and press were ecstatic that playwright Havel, the president of a recently communist country, should come the U.S. and praise freedom. But, they entirely overlooked what he was saying.

Earlier in the century, phenomenologist philosopher Edmund Husserl was contending that theoretical knowledge had lost contact with living human experience. In 1936, Husserl wrote a powerful treatise on the subject, “The Crisis of European Sciences” (in German), in which he asserted that the morally ordered world of our prereflective lived experience is inseparable from Nature, what he described as the common life-world. Lebenswelt. Havel wrote that Husserl’s understanding of “the natural world” and “the world of lived experience” are reliable vectors through which to approach “the spiritual framework of modern civilization and the source of the present crisis.” He identified children, working people, and peasants as “far more rooted in what some philosophers call the natural world… than most modern adults.” “They have not grown alienated from the world of their actual personal experience,” he wrote, “the world which has its morning and its evening, its down (the earth) and its up (the heavens), where the sun rises daily in the east, traverses the sky and sets in the west …”

Ukiah Mendocino: No on Measure A – Letter from Laytonville


From ROBIN THOMPSON
Laytonville

[Hey DDR Slicksters! C'mon down from your castles and let's get on with the debates! -DS]

To the Editor:
Ukiah Daily Journal

I recently received the Mendocino County Tomorrow (MCT) Open Letter (vote ‘yes’ on measure A) from Danny Rosales concerning the DDR vs. Mendocino County debacle (depending on which side of the issue it’s viewed from).

Mr. Rosales starts with the standard bag of worries by appealing to everyone’s fears about everything as a way of gaining a foothold in his argument. After almost a decade of that tactic, I grow weary of listening to that as the basis for discussion. Sure we are in hard economic times, but are Americans so afraid of challenges that we are willing place all our eggs in yet another big business basket? I hope that is not an accurate depiction of our society now.

Mr. Rosales states that the MCT vision statement “…is to promote responsible community growth…” How responsible is it to promote importing more millions of metric cubic tons of, essentially, garbage consumables from China and elsewhere? Aren’t our dumps full enough? Aren’t our storage units jammed full? Mr. Rosales goes on to parrot words like “sustainable.” Yeah, sustaining DDR and Big Box stores.

If DDR considers dealing with our county “…more difficult than climbing Mount Everest…”, then I don’t think much of DDR’s hand wringing and incapable staff. Could they even manage the whole thing well from here forward? DDR is the one with the big bucks to bash their way through any obstacle so why the whining?

Ukiah Mendocino: Is The Swine Flu Pandemic A Hoax?


From JIM HOULE
Redwood Valley

The H1N1 pandemic seems to have taken on a life of its own – while the actual evidence of a serious and life-threatening epidemic has not supported the hysteria we hear in the main stream media. The news media and the World Health Organization have continued to pump out stories suggesting that we are just a few months away from Armageddon – and the mass inoculation of just about everyone with a still-untested vaccine is the only solution. Mark Horton, director of the California Dept. of Public Health announced that “millions of Californians, possibly one in four, may be affected by the coming H1V1 ‘swine flu’ virus”. Dr. Marvin Trotter, Mendocino County’s public heath officer “fears ‘a perfect storm’ scenario could lead to the rapid and potentially deadly spread of what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls a ‘novel virus’. Ukiah Daily Journal 8-30-09. The virus seems to particularly attack the lung tissue and this can lead to viral pneumonia. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology warned that “swine flu poses a serious threat: half the population could come down with the strain and 90,000 could die this season.” US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius warns that “this is not the flu we’re used to”. As if to speed up their production, Sibelius has signed a document specifically granting pharmaceutical manufacturers immunity from prosecution for death or injury from the vaccine.

THE EVIDENCE SO FAR

Yet, the evidence collected to date seems to suggest that H1N1 is a relatively mild flu, similar to the common influenza we have dealt with for decades and is in fact practically indistinguishable from it.

Side With the Living – Derrick Jensen


From Derrick Jensen
Orion Magazine

A note to those who would demonize nature

The other night I saw a commercial for a PBS program that breathlessly described how orcas “dominate” the oceans. And the nature program I had the misfortune to see before that talked of different species of bears “conquering” each other’s territories. The program repeatedly emphasized the powerful bite of one particular type of bear—making sure we got the point by always playing scary music when these bears were depicted—and only late in the program did viewers learn that these bears were exclusively scavengers, with powerful jaws not so they could “conquer” and “dominate,” but so they could break the bones of those already dead. This projection onto the natural world of this culture’s urge to dominate is so ubiquitous as to be at this point almost invisible to us, like air. And obviously, how we perceive the natural world affects how we behave toward it: if we perceive it as full of domination, we are more likely to attempt to dominate it.

Not infrequently, people will use the mass extinctions of the past to rationalize their efforts to dominate (read: destroy) the world at hand. For example, I recently read an essay by the influential scientific philosopher Sam Harris titled “Mother Nature Is Not Our Friend.” It begins, “Like many people, I once trusted in the wisdom of Nature. . . . I now believe that this romantic view of Nature is a stultifying and dangerous mythology. Every 100 million years or so, an asteroid or comet the size of a mountain smashes into the earth, killing nearly everything that lives. If ever we needed proof of Nature’s indifference to the welfare of complex organisms such as ourselves, there it is.” Never mind that only one of the major mass extinctions was probably caused by an asteroid. But the real point is that the moral I derive from mass extinctions is precisely the opposite of the moral Harris projects onto them.

Go to complete article here

Ukiah Mendocino: Hey Monster Mall Folks – Lighten Up! (Video and Free Concert Announcement)


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Ukiah

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. ~Willam James

DDR generously, but erroneously, attributes to my organizing skills the sing-a-long at their recent “town hall” in Redwood Valley. Kudos should be directed to The Bronnettes for their clever lyrics and singing! The subject of the meeting was Measure A, the initiative to put a monster mall on the old Masonite site. Watch the YouTube video of the sing-a-long portion of the meeting below.

In the video, DDR accuses The Bronnettes of disrupting the meeting.   But if you look at the video, it’s plain to see that the meeting hadn’t begun; the room is nearly empty.  The sing-a-long was simply a bit of pre-meeting entertainment.   Hardly what I’d call “disruption.”

Why do so many oppose Measure A? If passed, Measure A would:  (1) Allow an Ohio corporation to bypass local planning regulations that the rest of us have to follow; (2) Avoid review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); (3) Replace jobs at existing local businesses with minimum wage jobs at the monster mall; (4) Create traffic nightmares; (5) Create polluting runoff from a huge parking lot; (6) Use lots of scarce water; and (7) Divert shopping dollars from downtowns across the county to big corporations that have no stake in Mendocino County.

Giant Hoax By Monsanto Continues – Genetically Modified Seeds Do Not Produce Higher Yields

From Union of Concerned Scientists

[As many of us have been saying for years, the only thing Monsanto has accomplished by genetically modifying seeds to withstand their poisons, is to increase the sales of those poisons, blanketing the earth and our bodies with their nasty, cancer-causing chemicals for profit. Their blatant bullshit about increasing higher yields is a con-job to force farmers to buy their seeds every year. Their executives and "scientists" should be pilloried in public humiliation in their own town's public squares and tried for crimes against humanity. Mendocino County was first to ban their plants from our county. We will feed the world with small, local, organic farms. Thanks to Janie for link. -DS]

Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops (Union of Concerned Scientists)

For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields. That promise has proven to be empty, according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009.

Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields. Failure to Yield is the first report to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies. It reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States.

How American Health Care Killed My Father


From David Goldhill

[A devastating indictment of our current medical system. My own father also died needlessly within a couple of days of hospitalization for a cracked hip. -DS]

After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here’s a radical solution to an agonizing problem.

Amost two years ago, my father was killed by a hospital-borne infection in the intensive-care unit of a well-regarded nonprofit hospital in New York City. Dad had just turned 83, and he had a variety of the ailments common to men of his age. But he was still working on the day he walked into the hospital with pneumonia. Within 36 hours, he had developed sepsis. Over the next five weeks in the ICU, a wave of secondary infections, also acquired in the hospital, overwhelmed his defenses. My dad became a statistic—merely one of the roughly 100,000 Americans whose deaths are caused or influenced by infections picked up in hospitals. One hundred thousand deaths: more than double the number of people killed in car crashes, five times the number killed in homicides, 20 times the total number of our armed forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another victim in a building American tragedy.

About a week after my father’s death, The New Yorker ran an article by Atul Gawande profiling the efforts of Dr. Peter Pronovost to reduce the incidence of fatal hospital-borne infections. Pronovost’s solution? A simple checklist of ICU protocols governing physician hand-washing and other basic sterilization procedures. Hospitals implementing Pronovost’s checklist had enjoyed almost instantaneous success…

Go to complete article here
~~

Pfizer Launches ‘Zoloft For Everything’ Ad Campaign


From your American Medical Industry

September 4, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

NEW YORK–Seeking to broaden the customer base of the popular drug, Pfizer announced the launch of a $40 million “Zoloft For Everything” advertising campaign Monday.

“Zoloft is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, but it would be ridiculous to limit such a multi-functional drug to these few uses,” Pfizer spokesman Jon Pugh said. “We feel doctors need to stop asking their patients if anything is wrong and start asking if anything could be more right.”

Continued Pugh: “How many millions of people out there are suffering under the strain of a deadline at work or pre-date jitters, but don’t realize there’s a drug that could provide relief? Zoloft isn’t just for severe anxiety or depression. Got the Monday blues? Kids driving you nuts? Let Zoloft help. Zoloft.”

Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) was originally introduced as a means of treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In January of this year, however, Pfizer won FDA approval for use of Zoloft to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder, as well as social-anxiety disorder, or “social phobia.”

Last week, the FDA okayed Zoloft for treatment of “the entire range of unpleasant or otherwise negative social, physical, and mental feelings that an individual may experience in the course of a human life.”

“At first, Zoloft was only used to treat depression,” Pugh said. “But what is depression, really? Who died and gave doctors the authority to dictate who is and isn’t depressed? One man’s hangnail could be another man’s darkest depths of despair. Isn’t medication a tool to help people lead better, happier lives? Access to drugs should not be restricted to those the medical community officially deems ‘sick.'”

Pfizer president James Vernon said the “Zoloft For Everything” campaign will employ print and TV ads to inform potential users about the “literally thousands” of new applications for Zoloft. Among the conditions the drug can be used to treat: anxiety associated with summer swimsuit season, insecurity over sexual potency and performance, feelings of shame over taking an antidepressant, and a sense of hollowness stemming from losing an online auction.

In today’s fast-paced world, Vernon said, people don’t have time to deal with mood changes.

“Zoloft has always helped clinically depressed people modulate serotonin levels and other chemical imbalances that make life unlivable for them,” Vernon said. “But now, Zoloft can also help anyone who needs their emotions leveled off. Do you find yourself feeling excited or sad? No one should have to suffer through those harrowing peaks and valleys.”

Anita White of Yuma, AZ, sought out Zoloft after seeing one of the new commercials.

Go to article at The Onion
~~

Ukiah: Save Our Local Economy (SOLE) Challenges Measure A Proponents to a Series of Debates


From Save Our Local Economy (SOLE)
Ukiah

September 3, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

“Save Our Local Economy- No On A Campaign” challenges the “Yes On A Campaign,” Mendocino County Tomorrow and Jeff Adams of DDR to a series of face-to-face debates throughout Mendocino County over the course of the next month.

When asked to debate the issues nearly a year ago, DDR’s Jeff Adams told Citizen U coordinator Mary Anne Landis that DDR would debate when they DDR had their specific plan prepared.  That plan has been prepared and is now on the November ballot. “I certainly hope that Mr. Adams and Measure A proponents keep their promise. They have said they want to do what’s right for our community and that they believe in the American Democratic process, so let’s hear what they have to say, side by side a community member who disagrees with them.  Now is the time for DDR to show us their concern for our community by participating in public debates.” said Landis.

When asked about the challenge, SOLE spokesperson, Guinness McFadden, said, “The Citizens of Mendocino County have a right to a fair and open debate about the merits of Measure A, not staged and scripted town hall meetings.  Every major election in American history has included debates between the opponents.  Such face to face debates are American institutions generating great citizen interest and revealing the facts and issues to voters before an election.  SOLE is looking forward to an open and public discussion of the issues around the Measure A proposal.”

McFadden added, “There are a number of local organizations who would be happy to host such an event, in fact SOLE would gladly participate at the two events DDR has scheduled during September in Willits and Fort Bragg.”
~
From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

Do I expect DDR to actually debate the Monster Mall in the best traditions of our democracy? I doubt it. They already refused  to engage in the first debate many months ago, and an empty chair represented them on stage while one of their lawyers in the audience scribbled furiously away on his yellow pad as our guy thoroughly trashed their points, one by one, with documented facts. The local elections that followed doomed their project, so they had to import outsiders to collect signatures under false pretenses to circumvent our local democracy, escape our environmental protections, and steal our water, with Measure A.

They are also trying to avoid our local democratic zoning procedures, so why would they become democratically responsive to our local citizens now? With all the money they are pouring into their carefully contrived, million dollar propaganda campaign, they have much to lose —

Santa Rosa: Big Box Project Killed For Good Reasons


From The Press Democrat
Excerpts – Full article here

September 3, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

The Santa Rosa City Council voted late Tuesday to stop Lowe’s from building a big-box home improvement store on Santa Rosa Avenue, heeding the concerns of local business leaders who warned the chain store would hurt the community…

Councilmembers also worried that Lowe’s success would come at the expense of local businesses and their employees…

In a community where environmentalists and the business community often have battled over who will sit on the City Council, Tuesday was a rare occasion where the two sides came together to oppose what they saw as a common opponent.

The business leaders opposing Lowe’s included Exchange Bank President William Schrader, Skyhawk Village Market owner Mike Runyon, Clover Stornetta President Marcus Benedetti, Friedman’s Home Improvement President Bill Friedman and La Tortilla Factory co-owner Carlos Tamayo.

Their presence sent a message, as Oliver’s Market General Manager Tom Scott put it, that “we local retailers need to stick together against the big guys.” And they warned that the community would be less well off if Lowe’s were allowed to build here.

“I love the city of Santa Rosa’s campaign of ‘buy local, shop local, eat local,’ said Jody Lau, whose family owns G&G Supermarkets. “Remember that? By allowing this box store to go through, this is not supporting local.”

Tuesday’s hearing was the culmination of a battle over the 11.8-acre plan proposed about a half-mile south of Costco. The dispute has included mass mailings warning residents that the nation’s second-largest home improvement retailer would hurt existing businesses and take away jobs.

Opposition has come not only from some local business people but also from environmental, labor, housing advocacy and social justice groups. They claim the project would harm Friedman’s and other stores, take away jobs, increase traffic congestion and generate tons of greenhouse gas emissions.


Neighborhood Stores: An Overlooked Strategy for Fighting Global Warming

From Stacy Mitchell
New Rules Project

Recently that began to change: first a restaurant opened and then a tea shop. And then, in what many of my neighbors greeted as nothing short of a gift from heaven, a small fresh food market opened. Stop by at 6 in the evening and you’ll find a row of bicycles out front and the store’s narrow aisles packed with people pondering their dinner options.

This little store is one of hundreds of new neighborhood businesses that have opened in the last few years in what might be both the beginnings of a revival of small retail and one of the more important strategies we have for countering global warming.

Go to article at New Rules Project
~~

Profiling CEOs and Their Sociopathic Paychecks


From THOM HARTMANN
Author Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture.

September 2, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that “Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the US. Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total US pay in 2007, the latest figures available.”

One of the questions often asked when the subject of CEO pay comes up is, “What could a person such as William McGuire or Lee Raymond (the former CEOs of UnitedHealth and ExxonMobil, respectively) possibly do to justify a $1.7 billion paycheck or a $400 million retirement bonus?”

It’s an interesting question. If there is a “free market” of labor for CEOs, then you’d think there would be a lot of competition for the jobs. And a lot of people competing for the positions would drive down the pay. All UnitedHealth’s stockholders would have to do to avoid paying more than $1 billion to McGuire is find somebody to do the same CEO job for half a billion. And all they’d have to do to save even more is find somebody to do the job for a mere $100 million. Or maybe even somebody who’d work the necessary sixty-hour weeks for only $1 million.

So why is executive pay so high?

I’ve examined this with both my psychotherapist hat on and my amateur economist hat on, and only one rational answer presents itself: CEOs in America make as much money as they do because there really is a shortage of people with their skill set. And it’s such a serious shortage that some companies have to pay as much as $1 million a day to have somebody successfully do the job.

But what part of being a CEO could be so difficult — so impossible for mere mortals — that it would mean that there are only a few hundred individuals in the United States capable of performing it?

In my humble opinion, it’s the sociopath part.

CEOs of community-based businesses are typically responsive to their communities and decent people. But the CEOs of most of the world’s largest corporations daily make decisions that destroy the lives of many other human beings.

Only about 1 to 3 percent of us are sociopaths — people who don’t have normal human feelings and can easily go to sleep at night after having done horrific things. And of that 1 percent of sociopaths, there’s probably only a fraction of a percent with a college education. And of that tiny fraction, there’s an even tinier fraction that understands how business works, particularly within any specific industry.

Thus there is such a shortage of people who can run modern monopolistic, destructive corporations that stockholders have to pay millions to get them to work. And being sociopaths, they gladly take the money without any thought to its social consequences.

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